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tv   The Chris Matthews Show  NBC  February 13, 2011 4:30pm-5:00pm PST

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>> this is "the chris matthews show." >> ask not what your country can do for you. >> tear down this wall. >> i can hear you. >> the time for change has come. chris: beyond mubarak will the victory. streets be cheered in the u.s. two weeks from now? two decades from now? what's the hope? and the fear? change we can believe in. in his first foreign policy crisis, did president obama lead his team or was it better to watch than not control? or did he have a hidden hand? and finally, calling jeb bush. why republicans pining for this guy. is it a problem with mitt? i'm chris matthews. welcome to the show. with us today, new york magazine's john heilemann. gloria borger from cnn.
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"the washington post's" anne kornblut and "washington post" david ignatius. the revolution that overthrew hosni mubarak was a victory for democracy and in many ways for the obama administration in its first foreign policy crisis. the president talked about the historic change. >> there are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. this is one of those moments. this is one of those times. the people of ejent have spoken. -- eegypt have spoken. their voices have been heard and egypt will never be the same. chris: david, this is very tricky for the president, wasn't it? this whole episode. >> the president faced a delicate problem. starting two weeks ago which is how to push this stubborn president of egypt hosni mubarak who has been there nor 30 years without making him even more stubborn and resisting even more. i think the president mostly got it right. mostly tried to do it behind the scenes. we have many contacts, many
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points of pressure with egypt. our military is very close to the egyptian military. and we're moments over the last two weeks when there were too many voices in washington. too many different sounds. chris: you mentioned that in your column. >> i said in my column my feeling was just shut up. let private pressure work. speak with one voice in private. i think we finally saw that in the final 24, 48 hours before the announcement to mubarak. chris: the balancing act part. try to talk about this isn't an easy one. the president's heart was with the protesters. we all knew that. >> yeah. chris: how did he use his head? >> he used his heart and head. he worked apprehend the scenes. one of the unsung heroes in all of this when we start talking about what happened, will be the secretary of defense who was privately speaking with his counterpart in egypt. you know the close relationship that we have with the egyptian military. in the end, turned out to be -- the most important relationship we have. and the interesting thing about
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barack obama is that unlike lots of folks one would say even frank which iser in -- wisner who they sent over as an envoy he was unburdened by a 30-year relationship and didn't have a 30-year relationship with hosni mubarak. he approached this very differently. this is a man who ran on change. who talked about democracy in the middle east. who gave the speech in cairo. >> and who grew up under a dictator himself as a boy in indianapolis nearby a -- in indonesia. chris: people have thought he was pro third world and sympathetic to the aspirations of poor cents who want to get ahead but the knock from the right and center right is two -- too third world and' spiring people and how about looking for our oil producing allies and israel? will they be worried about what they saw? >> they will be worried but a misinterpretation. the truth about obama is he has a really keen perception of the limits of american power. and i think there is throughout the -- for the last 2 1/2
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weeks, david wrote in one of his early comments about this that this is not about us. what was going on over there was not primarily about the united states. we had limited leverage and a popular protest. something totally new in the middle east. and then the populist nature of it will transform the politics of the middle east because it will open up the possibilities of this kind of upreesing across the region. obama knew that from the beginning which is that we have some leverage. we can do some good here. but thls not primarily about -- but this is not primarily about us. chris: the president it seems like, how can you not be taken with, for the first time in the history of the middle east not the europeans, french and british saying what country -- the name of the countries even. it wasn't the terrorist bombing buildings killing people. it was unarmed people, college educated men and aspiring to what we have. a meritocracy. you go to school and get a job. >> a lot of confidence that things would turn out in the end there.
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they were cretsized for being behind the curve and having too many voices but they had confidence it would unfold two weeks, three weeks in the right way and send the receipt signals, not be too heavy handed but send the receipt signals to the people that they were fundamentally with them but they could do it themselves. this was not american pushback. chris: how did you get that reporting? how did you know they felt good about the ultimate outcome? >> you could see it in their public statements. you saw remarks in the past week and testimony on capitol hill. when the d.n.i. director clapper said the muslim brotherhood is largely secular. he was ridiculed because it's the muslim brotherhood. but what he was also signaling is that look, we have confidence that whatever government emerges from this, we're working on it. but we have confidence that they are going to emerge in the right mold, in the mold that we're trying to push. >> that goes to the confidence they have in their relationship. -- relationships. chris: these guys that do this for a living, i know we have good relations with like jordanian intelligence us with brittle but good, egypt's
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intelligence, saudi intelligence, have we been blind-sided to the street because we've been too pro government in those cases? >> our c.e.a. has had a real dilemma especially since september 11, 2001. we need our intelligence partnerships in the middle east with these authoritarian regimes to target al qaeda. our belft sources of information often have been the generals in egypt and heads of intelligence in jordan. but the price of that liaison, as the c.e.a. calls it is we get too close to these dictatorial regimes. we in effect give up our focus on what's happening inside, our ability to make contacts with the opposition, because the overriding priority for the c.i.a. is counterterrorism. is going after al qaeda. >> right. >> and so i think we got in a box here that we're going to have to figure a way to break out of chris: you have reported it well. but you're also saying that clapper, the head of d.n.i., the head of intelligence and whole operation is being
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optimistic about the street here. >> well, their answer of course is that some things are secrets and other things are mest riss. there are things they couldn't have known over time. they were mysteries getting inside the head of mubarak is one. obviously the c.e.a. director came under contract sism for testifying that there was going -- criticism for testifying -- it's hard to make sense of chaos. chris: during the eastern europe thing, during hungary and you guys don't report this stuff. i was talking to a hungarian official, a professor at karl marx university said how is this going to work over here? he said freedom is contagious. we all watch television and watching yeltsin fight the soviet power forces over there. and everybody in the middle east is watching this thing. the people our age, younger, they're all watching this. and just a political person you have to figure they're all talk over coffee or whatever. we have to do this thing. >> and this is why the u.s. allies in the region are so terrified. they are looking and saying we are next. and why they've been critical
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of the obama administration for cutting mubarak loose and worried about a reshaped region. the big story coming out of this for the next month is going to be the obama dimension is going to have to recon feg its middle east policy across the board. and not just in israel but across the board. and going to have to be done on the fly and heading into a totally new world. chris: israel has always banked on a certain number of relationships. and they had those relationships -- >> israelis that i talked to are genuinely frightened. they're frightened for several reasons. first, there's uncertainty ahead for egypt. this revolution is glorious but revolutions usually are when they're in their infancy. and it's hard to know where to go. the israelis are worried about the credibility of american assurances. hosni mubarak has been our friend for 30 years. israel has been our friend for even longer but israelis look at this and say in the end, the americans were willing to throw hosni mubarak their ally under the bus. what about us? what about their pledges to us? >> especially scared because
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suleman who has been somebody that we could deal with is clearly not somebody that should be a part of this coalition or that the folks in tahir square will accept as part of any kind of transition government. >> but the medical tear as a whole, suleman -- the military as a whole, suleman is transition. the egyptian military is pro american. and in that sense sympathetic to israel. i would not think that this movement will move to try to abrogate the peace treaty with israel and israel is a little bit overdone and don't think that will happen. chris: back at home robert gibbs, the presidential press seck tashe fend his tour -- press secretary finished his tour of office and the new press secretary is jay carney moving up from his job as vice president biden spokesman. this week some of his predecessors held a forum on the tricks. trade of being presidential press secretary. like clever obfuscating and putting down the question, we've seen that. that was one of the chief tricks of nixon's guy, ron ziggler, who had to keep coming
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up with new ways to defend the indefensible. >> if we were going to tamper with these tapes, we would have done a far better job with it. chris: another trick avoid the tough questions in the room. they were pounding george w. bush's press secretary, scott mcclellan, over that c.e.a. leak story. so day after day mcclellan would call on our press room regular from the indian newspaper the globe, named goyle. the impertinent voice you hear is our buddy david korn. >> there's a deference between commenting on an investigation and taking an action. can i finish, please? >> i'll come back to you in a minute. i think i've responded to -- >> you -- do you think you went too far two years ago? >> for the first time -- [inaudible] >> we're going to make sure the senate judiciary committee has copies of that information. chris: david agreeing re-trying to get past the -- gregory trying to get past the indian guy and mike mcclellan's trick
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ry. >> i'm -- as an anonymous source. [laughter] >> this is the senior white house official who is so helpful to so many of all the time. chris: there's always going to be a senior white house official. and welcome, jay carney. to your new job. when we come back it won't be long until we know which republicans are definitely running for president. but the powers that be don't seem happy with the lineup that's shaping up right now. will they unite and try to grab jeb bush? scoops and predetections right out of the notebooks of these top reporters. >> "the chris matthews show" is being br charles schwab. get the help your money deserves. talk to chuck.
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chris: welcome back. this week much of the 2012 republican field was at the conservative political action committee big meeting in washington. it's called cpac. it only made party big shots more worried about the lineup and the conservative magazine national review made it their cover story and they're pushing for there it is, jeb bush. we have included jeb in our 12 for 12 series but not certain he will jump in no matter how much pressure from the big shots push him into the race. we tested with our matthews meter. 12 of our regulars including gloria and john who are right here. would jeb be the g.o.p. strongest bet to run against president obama? the meter is split 6-6. gloria and john, you're in the yes column. best candidate to run as a republican. >> he's very strong because he's one of the people or one of the only people who can unite the tea party people with the establishment republicans. he can reach out to hispanics. and he's been a practicing
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nonpolitics. and a practicing nonpolitician for quite some team now. saying i'm out of politics. chris: that helms. and tampa, going to be 100 degrees in september, will he excite the batchman and the palin crowd, does he have the juice for that? >> look, that is the big question. and here are some facts. one fact is that the republican field is the weakest field that nebraska has seen and republicans all -- that anybody has seen and republicans and there are handful of republican governors who have been going to jeb bush with regularity. chris: the biggies, haley, christie? >> serious people. and have been going to him saying you must run. the third thing is his response is no. i'm not going to run. he's telling them privately he will not run. chris: why? >> that it's not his time. and i think he has his eyes set on 2016 and feels like a lot of people that president obama is looking better for re-election now and would rather be in the open field in 2016.
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so he's -- doesn't have the fire in his belly right now and he could be a really effective candidate. but only if he really is all the way in. chris: second conversation with -- or the 10th conversation and ann you cover this, they say that's the they go that's cost everybody who has ever not won the presidency not to win it. but bill clinton ran ahead of schedule. barack obama ran ahead of schedule. if you run earlier than everybody says you should run, you win. >> but when your name is bush, the timetable is different. and especially -- he can appeal to the tea party but some time has to elapse between the bushes running i would think. chris: but confuse jeb with george w. after you met the guy for five minutes? >> in 2008 we talked about the dynasties. nobody would confuse hillary and bill clinton. chris: are brothers as tight as married people? >> obama has already run against a bush once in 2008. and i think he would win again. and i think jeb knows that. chris: -- >> i don't think the establishment is hungry as it is for an attractive man who can unite the party will
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convince jeb bush to move up his timetable. 2012, he thinks, and i think he's right. chris: there you are. is that a statement he doesn't think they'll win and that's why he's not running? >> right now obama is strong much that this would be a suicide mission. chris: does he read it that way? jeb bush as smart as he is reading this right? >> that's his read on it. there's opportunity there for a good republican. obama's not invulnerable. chris: find him. >> or her. chris: that's the treky part. because my suggestion to you and you're the expert because you do nothing but write about this, john, is that when you are really saying for jeb is we think mitch got -- mitt got the right profile but we need somebody with more personality to fill that suit. >> many republicans think that mitt romney is a deep will he flawed frontrunner. -- deeply flawed frontrunner. and think about it. you want to run against an incumbent, any incumbent, versus having an open race? you're better off in an open race. than running against any incumbent unless that incumbent is really down in --
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chris: i'm just wondering. 9% unemployment rate. the industrial midwest wide open. the big ten states, you could win there. a republican can win in states now that they could probably normally not win in. >> oftentimes when you wait, it's too late. chris: that's what i say. so is jeb running? >> i don't think he's going to run. >> i think he'll say no. >> i doubt it but one of the people saying no now will end up running. chris matthews at this or someone like that. >> 2016. chris: i think they're going to keep pounding on that guy's door until it opens. when we come back, i think haley barbour will be the guy pounding the latest. scoops and predictions out of the notebooks of it's really delicious, mom. it's not too well done? nope. but it is a job well done. what are you reading, sweetie? her diary. when you're done, i'd love some feedback. sure. your mom and i read that thing cover-to-cover. loved it. thanks. would you mind if i cut the lawn this weekend? only if you let me talk to your mother on the phone for hours on end. done. [ male announcer ] u-verse brings peace to the family. at&t u-verse lets you record four shows at once from any room and play them back on any tv.
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>> tell me something i don't know is brought to you by charles schwab. talk to chuck. chris: welcome back, john. tell me something i don't know. >> back to our previous conversation. here's the field. romney, in, paw lnty, in, barbour in, huntsman, in, daniels, out, huckabee, out, and -- chris: how can he be out? >> huckabee out and sarah palin you would have to be carnac the magnificent to figure that out. chris: the white house thinks huckabee is the nominee. >> the white house is nervous about huckabee but he's making too much scratch to give that up. in florida. chris: you are even -- gloria. >> let's talk about the senate. you talked about the president and let's talk about the senate. john kyl retiring. in arizona. chris: why? >> talk about the scratch.
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i don't know. and obviously gabby giffords is somebody who had wanted that seat and still could perhaps run for it. if that doesn't occur, democratic leaders really would like janet napolitano. chris: a lot of udalls around. anne kornblut. >> the white house was -- the white house has to figure out what to do about china and some would like to see gary locke leave the commerce department and he speaks chinese. chris: so his background is chinese. >> yeah. he could do that job. not sure if he would do it. moved his name once but he's in the mix. chris: david david. -- david ignatius. >> c.i.a. officers are worried about the implications of the pack substance -- pakistanis holding someone with diplomatic credentials in jail in lahor when under every international rule they should be releasing him and they fear this makes every one of them vulnerable everywhere they travel. chris: what are they trying to
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get out of him? >> the problem is that that are all afraid to release him. it's a political battle in pakistan. this man was caught. he shot and killed two people who were tailing him. whether they were thieves or something else is still up for discussion. but this is really got people nervous. chris: spooks and spies and all those guys with capes. and swords. when we come back, the big question of the week, barack obama submits his budget this week. is he going to get serious and go after the true be right back. ring ring. progresso.
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chris: welcome back. republicans are talking about big cuts. but excluding from cuts, 90% of the federal budget. president obama says that won't do it. >> we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. it won't. [applause] chris: but our big question this week, what would it take for president to back that up and call for a true bipartisan serious effort at debt reduction? john? >> i just think that it's not going to happen. and it's not going to happen because the white house is seeing the signs of the beginning of total disarray on the republican side. and there is no -- i just think that they are going to be
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politically more timid than i might think they should be. and they see that republicans do not have their act together. and that they need to have a partner that does have its act together in order for everybody to jump off the cliff together and so they are going to pull back, too. chris: that's the phrase. jump off the cliff together. >> but we are heading into a direction. chris: two years from now. >> what it will take is the republicans to say, ok, we'll do it. chris: what will it take? >> to see them say it first. chris: you first. >> gloria is absolutely right. chris: a secret meeting, are you with me on this stuff? we will take a serious shot at raising the reteerment age. we're going to do some things with these other entitlements and save $100 billion, your tea party people will love it. >> they will see what happens with the divisions in the republican base. chris: something that everybody agrees has to be done. >> the president likes being out there in the center. i think he likes taking ideas
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from republicans. taking ideas from democrats. and i think he will -- he will need to have something serious and credible about defense. he's -- defense cuts. he's got support from the chiefs on that. he's going to have to have something serious about changing the tax code. and i read his speech to the chamber of commerce saying i'm ready to do this. i'm ready to cut corporate taxes. chris: the young people will love it if he gets out there. my daughter is typical of what's out there. concerned youth for america and want them to do this because it's contributory negligence player interests down the road. >> he didn't do it in the state of the union speech. chris: that's a problem. thanks for a great roundtable. we're looking at it. john heilemann, thank you, gloria borger, anne kornblut, and david ignatius. that's the show. thanks for watching. that's the show. thanks for watching. see you back here next week. and eating well means getting enough whole grain and calcium. and general mills big g kid cereals can help.
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